Lilly Field: The Ghost of Otter Tail County

A real-life murder that haunts the lakes country of our region to this day.

It was 1887, and in Otter Tail County, a jury was about to make history.

A handyman had committed a murder so atrocious that their only recourse, they decided, was to sentence him to death.

It would be the first-ever hanging in Otter Tail County, and it would also be the ending to one of the saddest and most violent stories ever to emerge from the region.

Or so they thought.

More than one hundred years later, the tale of Lilly Field, brutally murdered at just fifteen years old by her own family’s employee, handyman Nels Olson Holong, still haunts our region today.

Recorded in unsparing and graphic detail by the journalists of the day, historical documents say Holong stabbed Field at her family’s Dalton, Minn. pig farm one morning when her older brother and mother had gone to town.

Holong, before fleeing for the area around nearby Ashby, threw Field’s mutilated body to the pigs. That was where her brother found her the following morning.

For generations, historian Chris Schuelke said, people in the Otter Tail county area have come to the area surrounding the site of the pig farm, hoping for a glimpse of the spirit some claim still walks the woods around the region.

Some say they’ve seen her. Others say they’ve heard only the squeals of pigs where no pigs are, or have been, for more than a hundred years.

To find out why the facts and the myths surrounding Lilly Field have horrified and haunted our region for so long, check out this video story, above.

And don’t forget to visit the Otter Tail County museum for more.



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